Musashino Higashi Gakuen is composed of two kindergartens, an elementary school, a junior high school, and a specialized high school. The kindergarten started in 1964, followed by the elementary school in 1977, the junior high school in 1983, and then the specialized high school in 1986. Thus the educational system is complete, with the integration of students with autism and regular students. At present (as of 5/1/2020), the total enrollment (kindergarten through high school) is 1618, of whom 462(29%) are autistic, and the number of staff is 265.
The breakdown of students at each school is as follows (as of 5/1/2020).
|Kindergartens||576 (58 are autistic)|
|Elementary School||555 (174)|
|Junior High School||298 (103)|
|Specialized High School||208 (136)|
|Address (Headquarters)||2-1-10 Midoricho|
Musashino, Tokyo 180-0012
When the kindergarten opened in 1964, there happened to be one child who later was diagnosed autistic. The founder wholeheartedly accepted him. That was the beginning of the education for children with autism at Musashino Higashi Gakuen. As desperate parents of children with autism all over Japan knocked on the door of the kindergarten, believing that their sons and daughters would not be turned away and that they would be better off at Musashino Higashi Gakuen Kindergarten than elsewhere. The number of children attending Musashino Higashi Gakuen naturally increased. The condition of these children, however, seemed to regress when they finished the kindergarten and returned to their local schools that apparently could not handle them appropriately. "Please build an elementary school to continue education for our sons and daughters" was the ardent cry of their parents. Having toiled very hard and long in order to respond to parents' pleas, Higashi Elementary School was established. Six years later, Higashi Junior High School opened. Three years after the opening of the Junior High School, Higashi Specialized High School began as a preparatory educational school to help students prepare to become respected members of society.
Higashi Gakuen's predominant features are Mixed Education and Daily Life Therapy for students with autism. In the mixed educational setting, students with autism are integrated with their regular peers for part of full-day curriculum. Daily Life Therapy, developed by the founder of the school promotes self-care skills and ultimately social independence. The consequence of these educational programs has proven enormous. Some outcomes of this education are described here. The total number of students with autism who have graduated from the Specialized High School, as of 3/31/2020, is 1114. Out of this number, 611 students are presently working in ordinary workplaces (55%), 391(35%) have been placed in sheltered workshops, and 102 students proceeded to advanced schools, such as colleges , technical schools or vocational training centers (9%).
While it is believed that individuals with autism are extremely difficult to educate, the above-mentioned number attained as the consequence of our educational practice of first developing self-care skills, then self-reliance and independence and finally full rehabilitation to society, has not been duplicated in any other part of the world.
Regular students, who are constantly exposed to autistic peers, naturally gain a readiness and generosity to accept friends with handicaps, which nurtures spontaneous attention and care for the weaker members of society. They are also challenged to stretch the limit of their own potential, as students with autism who make tremendous efforts to attain their goals positively influence them. We see good examples among Junior High School students. The regular Junior High school students enthusiastically attempt to establish physical and emotional rapport with their peers with autism. At the same time they also participate in community volunteer activities at nursing homes for the elderly, while diligently engage in their studies and succeed in entrance examinations for top-level high schools, either public or private. They are often very active in extracurricular activities such as gymnastics, track and field, dancing. They score high marks at Tokyo local tournaments and take part in Kanto regional and national tournaments. Needless to say, the education of Musashino Higashi Gakuen is successful not only for students with autism, but also for regular students.
It has been widely recognized that Musashino Higashi Gakuen has many unique features as a private school. The reputation of our successful educational programs for autistic children spread overseas, and by 1984 40 international children with autism were enrolled. Boston Higashi School was started in 1987 to meet the needs of international students, together with a strong support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, U.S.A. At present, Boston Higashi School (total enrollment is over 130, ages 3 to 21) is run by both Japanese and American staff. The majority of the students are American, with others from U.K., Ireland, Yugoslavia, Venezuela, Colombia, Kuwait, Angola, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and Taiwan, etc. The pillar of the education is Daily Life Therapy, which has been highly evaluated by both professionals and parents. Every year we witnesses striking results of our education, which is now being introduced to other countries through media, academic journals and conference presentations.
Now, Boston Higashi School, as well as its parent school, Musashino Higashi Gakuen, is enjoying worldwide recognition and more and more people from all over the world are visiting Musashino Higashi Gakuen to observe our education. Specialists from U.S.A., U.K., Sweden, Iceland, Korea and Taiwan among others have visited us over the past years. In Japan, parents, teachers of public and private schools and many other people who hear about and are interested in our school through TV and newspaper articles visit us in great numbers on open school days.
MHG receives many applications every year but cannot accept all of them because of the strict governmental approved capacity. Opening the Education Center in 2006 was the answer MHG made to respond to the strong requests for Daily Life Therapy education by the children and their parents from all over Japan. The center provides a variety of programs (learning program, school program, summer program and so on) and over 600 children participate throughout the year today. The daily life experience course and music classes have been added in 2008 and more programs will be developed sequentially for older ages through adolescence. In addition, the center provides education guidance for parents and seminars and presentations to the specialists to introduce our autism education domestically and internationally.
Kiyo Kitahara and her husband, Katsuhei Kitahara, founded Musashino Higashi Gakuen and Boston Higashi School. Kiyo Kitahara, who developed the method of education called Daily Life Therapy and devoted her life to the education of children died on January 14, 1989 at the age of 63. Katsuhei passed away on April 16, 1995. Staffs are fully committed with constant effort to continue their legacy and to further develop their theories and practices of education. The entire staff is also striving to gain a wide range of vision by taking part in various study activities.
Daily Life Therapy Volume 1
Principles and Methods of Educating Autistic Children by "Daily Life Therapy"
Record of Actual Education at Musashino Higashi Gakuen School, Japan (The Nimrod Press ￥1950））
Daily Life Therapy Volume 2
Record of Actual Education of Autistic Children by "Daily Life Therapy"
Record of Actual Education at Musashino Higashi Gakuen School, Japan (The Nimrod Press ￥2600））
Daily Life Therapy Volume 3
Physical Education for Autistic Children by "Daily Life Therapy"
Record of Actual Education at Musashino Higashi Gakuen School, Japan (The Nimrod Press ￥2600）
※Please contact Musashino Higashi Gakuen Administrative Office in Tokyo (0422-52-2211) if you would like to purchase the above books.